This past week I visited an orphanage just outside the capital city of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I had never been to this particular orphanage. We arrived unannounced. One gets a better picture of conditions when the staff don’t know you’re coming. I was delightfully surprised to see that this orphanage was different than many I have seen throughout Kyrgyzstan.
The staff greeted us happily, accepting gifts we had brought for the children. They showed us where the children sleep. There were about 30 beds all lined up, each one neatly made; all the linen and blankets appearing fresh and clean. In the play room, there were a variety of toys, all in good condition. The dining room and the school room were the same; clean and cheerful with bright paintings on the walls.
The children were intrigued with our visit and expressed uninhibited joy at our being there. Detecting my accent, one child asked me where I am from. “America,” I answered. This created great excitement as they then asked, “Oh, have you come to be our mother? Will you take us with you?” My heart strings were pulled. I wanted to answer that, yes, I will take you all! Of course, I could not.
I explained we were there to visit them, bring some gifts, and hopefully would be able to come again in the future. This seemed to satisfy them. Their attention turned to clambering into our laps, holding our hands, and arms. The staff were wonderful with the children, and one easily saw that the children loved them, too. Even so, the staff can’t give one on one attention to all of them when they need it.
So, I spent quite a bit of time holding the children, tickling them, asking them their names, etc. At one point a little fight broke out between two of the boys. I’m not exactly certain what happened, but while one boy stalked off in a huff, the other boy just sat with quiet tears forming in his eyes. He glanced up and saw me looking at him. Instinctively, I held my hands out to him, motioning him to come. Warmth filled my heart when he did just that — he came with no hesitation to my waiting arms. He came close and let me soothe him with gentle words, stroking his hair, tears disappearing as the hurt in his heart was replaced with receiving the love I offered him.
I have that little boy’s face etched in my memory. I think of him now everyday. I pray for him to be given a good home. I pray for him to come to know about Jesus.
I have thought, too, about Jesus and what He said about children in Matthew 19:13-15, “Some children were brought to Jesus so He could lay hands on them and pray for them. The disciples told them not to bother Him. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’ And He put His hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.”
Reading this I thought again of the little boy who did not hesitate to come to me when I held my arms out, offering comfort and words of love to his hurting heart. It’s the same with Jesus, and you and me, isn’t it? We hurt in this world for all sorts of reasons. There is Jesus, holding His arms out to us, ready and longing to offer us comfort, and words of love to heal the wounds of our hearts. But so often, we don’t come into His arms. Like the second little boy, we stalk away in a huff. It’s so much better to receive love, than to run away from all Jesus offers to us — don’t you think so?
Jesus said when He was with the children, “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” That’s right. To receive everything Jesus has for us, like children, we must trust Him, we must choose to go to Him. He will not force us, but He is always hoping and waiting. Are you hurting today? Will you go to Jesus? His arms are open wide.